Today is thought to mark an historic first when an Irish government minister meets a victim of alleged Garda-IRA collusion.
John Sproule, whose brother Ian, 24, was murdered by the IRA in 1991 amidst claims of collusion between the Garda and the IRA, is to meet Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
Shortly after Ian Sproule’s murder the IRA justified it by showing a Garda intelligence file, which claimed their victim was a UVF member.
Ian’s brother, John, denies he was in the UVF.
Two weeks ago John said he had been angered by Irish government ministers visiting NI to call for a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, while he has been pressing for a meeting with them for six years with no result. Dublin was trying to “wash its hands” of the case, he claimed.
However the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade strongly rejected Mr Sproule’s comments and insisted it had already made an offer to meet Mr Sproule through a representative.
Mr Sproule responded that Mr Coveney had told a unionist politician on the fringes of a conference six months ago that he was willing to meet – but that nothing came of it.
A first meeting was agreed for today after South East Fermanagh Foundation advocacy manager Ken Funston then wrote to Mr Coveney.
“I am hoping we will discuss collusion,” Mr Sproule said last night. “We have a pile of questions to ask. I want to know what the Irish government are going to do about it. They can’t just say ‘we have met the Sporule family’ and that is it. I am hoping there will be a public inquiry.”
Both the Garda and Irish government must be completely transparent, he said.
“The IRA were free to come and go across the border and slaughter innocent men women and children throughout the Troubles,” he added. “Yet during the foot and mouth outbreak the Garda had every road sealed so tight you could not get a ham sandwich through.”
Mr Sproule also said the Garda Ombudsman met the family two years ago and were told there was a case to answer, but that the organisation has since failed to respond to all emails, letters and calls.
“We have been emailing the Irish government since 2013 and this is the first meeting we have had, so they can’t simply say they are up for this or that. I am not going to stop until the full truth is told.”
Mr Funston complained that Mr Coveney “bypassed” him to offer the meeting “through political channels”. Mr Coveney has not offered any comment.